Monday, June 20, 2005

On human rights, Part VII

Okay, so we've got more rights fo' that ass:
Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

But what does this mean for me?

Last time, we discovered that no one can detain you without cause. Today we learn that, even with cause, they can't just assume that you're guilty. We'll go back to our previous example of the convenience store holdup. The officers who arrested you can't just take you into a back room and start beating you until you crack, with the excuse that, "Hey, this kid held up a convenience store," 'cause the fact is, they just don't know. The fact that you've got your nice, shiny alibi is actually secondary to the fact that you just aren't guilty until they have reason to think otherwise. Video of you committing the crime? Catching you with loot afterwards? They might start drawing conclusions. But as long as all they've got is you sitting at Denny's with a bunch of folks, you're guilty of nothing more than picking the wrong friends. Oh, and just for the sake of argument, if robbery wasn't against the law at the time your friends did it, they'd get off, too. But, uh, for the record, robbery? Against the law.

The police (or government or whomever) can't mess with your family, either. Say they really want to get some information on your friends for the trial, so they, say, put you in a position that makes it look like you're fellating a guy and threaten to show it to your family or put it on the Internet. Nothin' doin'; they can't do that. They can't make up stories and pass them around, can't pick up your wife and threaten to rape her in front of you, nothing; your family, your privacy and your reputation are all off-limits.

Just answer the question already.

It means that they can't immediately start beating the crap out of you just because they think you're a terrorist, nor can they mess with your family or smear you publicly.

Part I: The Preamble; Part II: Articles 1 and 2; Part III: Articles 3 and 4; Part IV: Articles 5 and 6; Part V: Articles 7 and 8; Part VI: Articles 9 and 10

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